Do Hard Things, by Alex and Brett Harris

(First published by me on Jewels of Jesus in June 2014) Do Hard things: a teenage rebellion against low expectations.

“Most people don’t expect you to understand what we’re going to tell you in this book. And even if you understand, they don’t expect you to care. And even if you care, they don’t expect you to do anything about it. And even if you do something about it, they don’t expect it to last. We do.” – Alex and Brett Harris

This is one of my favourite books for young people! Do Hard Things is all about challenging the ‘teens’ in today’s culture to see that there is more to life than friends and video games. Rather, the teen years are the “launching pad of life.” It’s about what you do after you’ve become a Christian. Your heart has changed, and so must your life. There are five kinds of hard things:

  • Things that take you out of your comfort zone
  • Things that go above what is expected or required
  • Things that are too big to accomplish alone
  • Things that don’t earn an immediate payoff
  • Things that challenge the cultural norm

I like this book because it is practical as well as being about the history of adolescence. There are a lot of books that talk about feelings, or relationships, but Alex and Brett have taken the challenge and written this one. They’ve also written Start Here, a follow-up book about how others are doing hard things, and just how you can get started and join them. I think every Christian young adult should read this book, because that’s who it’s written for – a whole generation willing to serve God above themselves.


Charles Spurgeon, by J C Carlile

spur(First published by me on Jewels of Jesus in May 2014)
What I liked about this book:
  • It’s a pleasant and balanced story.
  • It moves easily and gives a good sense of the order of the main events of Spurgeon’s life, from his first sermon until his death at Menton, aged only 58.
  • It relates Spurgeon to the time in which he lived.
  • It also talks about his brother, a Congregationalist pastor.
I didn’t like the ending, however.
“Let us turn to Spurgeon as our guide, following his determination and serenity of spirit.”
Let us rather turn to Jesus as the perfect example!


Recommended for someone wanting a shortish, neat, and peaceful biography of Charles Spurgeon.


The Prince of Preachers, by Christian Timothy George

(First published by me on Jewels of Jesus in April 2014)
Charles Spurgeon was born in Essex, England, in 1834. He was converted at age fifteen and preached his first sermon the next year. He was a popular and able preacher of the Scripture and was compared to D.L. Moody, an American evangelist born in 1837.

Mr Spurgeon married Susannah Thompson in 1856. They had twin sons, Thomas and Charles.
Mr Spurgeon was a Baptist and a Calvinist. He frequently preached to crowds of more than 10,000. He also wrote many books, all of which have been very popular.
jojThis biography is aimed at children aged 8-14. I took it from the bookshelf hoping to get a good, basic overview of Spurgeon’s life. I was quite disappointed.
The book incorrectly states the date of Spurgeon’s death. It also contains many errors in spelling and grammar. Another possible source of confusion for young readers is that it says that Spurgeon’s son Thomas was twelve years old in 1877, when in fact he was born in 1856. The reference to Thomas’ age is contained in a chapter headed “Sunday morning, 1877”.  The rest of the book appears to be in plain chronological order. So either the maths is wrong, or the author wasn’t paying attention to the order of his anecdotes.

Overall, this book seemed to be just a collection of exciting and emotional stories from the life of Charles Spurgeon. It even includes a legendary story about Queen Victoria disguising herself as a peasant in order to go and listen to Spurgeon preach.

I would recommend this book to someone wanting to read several interesting stories about Charles Spurgeon, and who doesn’t mind imperfect grammar.

Our Stories, edited by Ian Wishart

our storiesI’ve just finished reading Ian Wishart’s book “Our Stories: The Way We Used to Be: The New Zealand Time Forgot,” (published by Howling At the Moon in 2014) and wanted to share it with you.

It’s actually a collection of newspaper articles written in the 1800s and 1900s. Wishart has searched them out from Papers Past(1), and written his commentary in between the articles.

It was a format I’m not used to, and the age of the articles made them a bit heavy-going, so Wishart’s summarising notes helped a lot. I still loved the way it came together as a simple, honest look at what happened in New Zealand and what New Zealanders used to be like. The chapter called “The Telephone Comes to NZ” was especially amusing.

The whole book comes from Wishart’s viewpoint of discussing history they way it happened, no matter what’s politically correct in our day. He includes things that I’d never heard of, like the tsunami in 1868, and the big Christchurch earthquake in 1888 (read the Oamaru Mail article here).

I liked being able to read a book about New Zealand history from a different perspective, and enjoy the fruits of Wishart’s labours chasing down the old newspaper stories.

…the most fascinating forgotten tales of our past, told through the eyes of the people who were there. (quote from back cover)

So if you are interested in hundred-year-old news stories, or in New Zealand history, or you just love to read Ian Wishart, this is a book for you!

~I did not receive any compensation or reward for reviewing this book~

(1) Papers Past is an amazing resource of searchable historical newspapers which have been digitised by the National Library of New Zealand curators.

Linked to Literacy Musing Mondays